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Parents behind on child support benefit from new Ohio law

Due to the weak economy and a sour job market, it has become increasingly difficult for parents owing child-support payments to meet their financial obligations. In the past, Ohio law has assumed these parents were able to pay but unwilling. This unfair stereotype is proving increasingly untrue. An important change to the law regarding child support obligations was included in the recently passed state budget.

Prior to the change in the law, parents who did not fully make their child-support payments could have their driver's or professional license suspended. This was troublesome for many as the loss of a driver's license meant they could no longer drive either to work or to find work. That only made it more difficult for them to meet their financial obligations.

The law now says that parents who have paid at least 50 percent of their child-support payments will no longer face suspension of their license. Moreover, child support enforcement agencies must now look back 90 days before making any determination. In the past, the law only required them to look back one month.

This should come as good news to many parents. According to Ohio officials, more than 100,000 parents have had their driver's license suspended for missing child-support payments. One estimate says that two-thirds of those who owe money earn less than $10,000 a year, making it almost impossible to meet their obligations.

Parents who miss child support payments often do so not because they do not want to support their child, but because they are barely able to support themselves. Changing the laws to be less harsh should allow parents experiencing financial hardship to get back on their feet and hopefully provide needed support for custodial parents. Nonetheless, an Ohio parent who owes money should consult with an experienced Ohio family law attorney. An attorney may be able to convince a court to modify the payment and help to reach an equitable resolution of all matters in dispute.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Child support changes arrive," Catherine Candisky, Sept. 25, 2011

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